Match Group sues Google regarding Play Store’s payment policy

Match Group, which is the parent company to dating apps Tinder & OkCupid sued Google on Monday. They claimed that Google’s charging practices for its smartphone app store were unreasonable, in violation of antitrust laws.

According to The Verge, Match Group says Google is “illegally monopolizing the market for distributing apps” on Android and mandating the development team to use Google’s billing system and afterward collecting a cut of their revenue.

In 2020, a similar accusation ensued. Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the software company participated in “anti-competitive” activity by demanding a 30 percent on in-app purchases in the iOS app store, among many other claims. Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers, the judge of the case, ruled in favor of Fortnite.

It all started here

2020 Google released a statement To use its billing system, it requires specific in-app forms. This policy is only applicable to developers who charge customers to download and sell digital items in-app. Google can make up 30% of its revenue by charging 3%.

In March 2021, Google however slashed the charge fee to 15%, only for developers who have earned their first $1 million. Google’s billing policy was adopted in October for music streaming services and subscriptions.

Following this, Match Group has sued Google for using “bait and switch methods” to deceive developers about its payment procedures.

“Ten years ago, Match Group was Google’s partner. We are now its hostage,” Match Group said in a press release.

The Match Group complaint, according to The Verge:

Google lured developers to its platform by promising that they could give users the option of how to pay for their services. Google Play became the dominant player in Android app distribution. It rode the coattails the most popular developers to gain access to the platform. However, Google wanted to ban other in-app payment processing services in order that it could keep a slice of almost every Android transaction.

Another claim Match Group made against Google is that they intend to impose an “app store tax”, which will be acquired from users. Match Group claims that Google wants to profit from the new billing policy. This will give Google access to customers’ credit card information and identities, which it can use.

Google has a response

In a post public policy blog, Google responded to Match Group’s complaint, saying that Match Group is “attempting to freeload off our investments rather than being a responsible partner”.

The policy blog explained why they took the actions they did, as well as how to stop fraud.

Also, on the blog, Google stated that “just around 3% of developers are subject to a service fee and 99% of those developers qualify for a service fee of 15% or less. Match Group’s apps, for example, are eligible to pay just 15% on Google Play for digital subscriptions, which is the lowest rate among major app platforms.”

Dan Jackson, a spokesperson for Google, issued a statement. The VergeAbout the complaint

This is just a continuation of Match Group’s self-interested campaign to avoid paying for the significant value they receive from the mobile platforms they’ve built their business on. We charge for our services as any business. And, like any responsible platform we also protect users from fraud and abuse in mobile apps. Match Group is currently recruiting regulator concerns over things like deceptive subscription practices, and with this filing they continue to put money ahead of user protection.

The Verge spoke with Dan Jackson, Google spokesperson

Google also highlighted that Match Group was sued by the Federal Trade Commission failing to filter out fake profiles which may have incentivized users towards paying subscriptions in 2019 was the reason for the lawsuit. The lawsuit was thrown out earlier this year.

Match says it attempted to resolve Google’s concerns but was told that its apps would be removed from the Google Play Store by June 1 if it didn’t comply.

The dating app maker’s lawsuit accuses Google of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, the California Cartwright Act, the California Unfair Competition Law and California tort law by demanding companies exclusively use Play Billing.

“They control app distribution on Android devices, and pretend that developers could successfully reach consumers on Android elsewhere,” Match Group CEO Shar Dubey said in a statement.

“It’s like saying, ‘you don’t have to take the elevator to get to the 60th floor of a building; you can always scale the outside wall.’”

If Match Group is forced to stop using its internal payment system, the company says it will suffer “irreparable damage to its customer relationships, reputation, business performance, and goodwill and its users will be harmed by increased prices and Google’s monetization of their data.”

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